Malaysia may reduce dependence on Zii Jia at mixed team championship

Dip in form: Lee Zii Jia had a disappointing start to 2023 when he crashed out in the early rounds of the Malaysian Open, India Open and Indonesian Masters.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia plan to reduce their dependence on singles star Lee Zii Jia in the Asia Mixed Team Championships to be held in Dubai from Feb 14-19.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) singles coaching director Wong Choong Hann said Malaysia, who are fielding their strongest team, should also use the strengths of other players to get good results at the championships, which will be played at the Dubai Exhibition Centre.

He said they would use the rotation system in fielding players, especially in singles where apart from Zii Jia, a second player, Leong Jun Hao, had also been selected to represent the country.

“We will discuss this in greater detail closer to competition, by comparing the conditions of the players and assessing their own confidence level for a particular match.

“We kind of know who we want to play but at the same time, I don’t think we will reveal much on that,” he told reporters after a training session.

As Zii Jia and Jun Hao have not been performing well lately, Choong Hann wants to use the centralised training camp next week to whip them into top shape, especially in terms of shuttle control and tactics.

“I think now the problem is switching of tactics as both were not smooth. There were too many gaps and those gaps were capitalised on by the opponents to score points against them. Those are the areas we need to work on,” he said.

Zii Jia had a disappointing start to 2023 when he crashed out in the early rounds of the Malaysian Open, India Open and Indonesian Masters while Jun Hao suffered a similar fate in the qualifying round of the Thailand Masters, losing 22-24, 19-21 to teammate Yeoh Seong Zoe.

At the Asia Mixed Team Championships, Malaysia will also be relying on world men’s doubles champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, top women’s doubles pair Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah and professional mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing.

Asked about India, who are considered Malaysia’s main threat in Group B, Choong Hann believed his team could win if they managed to handle the pressure on court.

“We will take things step by step because even if we lose to India, we still have a chance to beat others. We just have to stay focused and work on every match because that’s the best way to do it,” he said.

Kazakhstan and hosts the United Arab Emirates are also in Group B. — Bernama

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